A richly inventive novel about a centuries-old vampire, a spellbound witch, and the mysterious manuscript that draws them together.
Deep in the stacks of Oxford's Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries - and she is the only creature who can break its spell.
Debut novelist Deborah Harkness has crafted a mesmerizing and addictive read, equal parts history and magic, romance and suspense. Diana is a bold heroine who meets her equal in vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont, and gradually warms up to him as their alliance deepens into an intimacy that violates age-old taboos. This smart, sophisticated story harks back to the novels of Anne Rice, but it is as contemporary and sensual as the Twilight series - with an extra serving of historical realism.
©2011 Deborah Harkness (P)2011 Penguin
I agree with some of the earlier reviews:
Twilight for adults. Sappy. Romantic fiction.
But what teed me off is that this is 24 hours of set up for a series.
Asa King and Rice fan I was disappointed. As a Christie fan I was livid.
In all that time the mystery doesn't get solved. Poirot we need you.
I resented being sucked into a series without warning.
Series are great as long as each book will stand on its own. This one does not.
Witches, vampires, demons, did we forget anything? Oh yes, a few ghosts and let's not forget the humans. Shouldn't there be some werewolves but oddly enough, there aren't any. There is an interesting plot, a mysterious alchemical manuscript, an old unsolved murder and finally the "hero" and "heroine". However, this is the first time that I've listened to a book and found the plot to be more interesting than the main characters. And the plot is what kept me going through the entire 24 hours and 2 minutes.
We first meet Diana Bishop, scholar, historian, emotionally stunted witch in the Bodleian Library and are quickly introduced to Matthew Clairmont, tall, dark, handsome stranger, no wait...vampire. Without much ado, Diana and Matthew become attracted to each other though why isn't at all clear. Neither character displays much by way of personality other than a propensity on Diana's part to be insipid, insecure and irrational. Matthew on the other hand, is autocratic, demanding and superior. And hearing him call Diana "mon coeur" over and over becomes positively nauseating. Both characters seem to have no conversation other than to make silly demands of each other, or issuing ultimatums. Buy the end of the book I was heartily sick of Diana and Matthew. They had become caricatures, one dimensional, boring and unsympathetic. And I really don't much care what happens to them.
Reader Jennifer Ikeda does an adequate job, though some of her voices for the different characters start to grate after awhile. It is perhaps more an indication of the character development (or lack thereof) that affects the reading.
There is promise to author Deborah Harkness' writing, otherwise I wouldn't have been able to finish A Discovery of Witches. Hopefully she'll continue to grow as an author and write a really terrific next book.
This book felt like a failed attempt at creating a grown-up Twilight. Whether you like them or not, the similarities between S.M.'s books and this one are obvious. In addition, I didn't realize this was a romance when I bought the book- IT IS! The romance takes up at least 3/4 of the book and moves at a confusing, awkward pace. I only kept listening to it so that I could write a review based on the entire book- otherwise I would have stopped listening around 2/3 of the way through.
On the bright side- the narrator does a fantastic job. The stars are for her.
If you decide what you read and/or listen to according to the reviews found on this web site then you will be cheating yourself. As you can tell from the reviews of this novel they run the gamut. I've never read a book that was "perfect"... even the ones that get across the board 5-star reviews aren't perfect. This is my advise... those of you who are hyper critical about narrators take the time to listen to the audio sample of the story offered for every selection on the site, the selection is usually fairly long and should give you amble time to judge the quality of the narration. It should also give you taste of the story. I liked this book and I thought it was a new twist on the vampire story... lots of new material... lots of interesting visualization and I thought the narrator was very good. I know these things are expensive and if you get one that disappoints you then that's wasted money in your mind, but consider that the taste for a story is as varied as our opinions of everything else in life... my father said, "opinions are like .... everyone has one and no one is interested in yours except you!"
I LOVE books. And dogs & quilting & beading & volunteering.
I feel the author read all the YA vampire, paranormal,witches etc etc books, put 'em in a blender with a soupçon of Nora Roberts, whipped em up and went for the money. After all, this stuff sells right now.
People give this book 5 freaking stars..To me, a 5 star book is "The Prince of Tides" I gave 5 stars to "American Gods" and "The Stand" This book isn't anywhere near that category and, really..there aren't that many actual 5 star books out there, but reviewers, lost in the blush of a fun read, will say "Its the best book I ever read", give it 5 stars and negate the review system. Nor is this book a total stinker-with editing and rewriting, it could come out to a reasonable book-so I gave it 2 stars overall.
OK I'm off my soap box.
Vamps, werewolves, witches and so on are hot sellers these days. Combined with uber strong and smart women along the lines of Skalander and Everdean. If you include some romance you have a 'guaranteed sell' to a certain audience that simply loves the genre and does not demand plotting or character development....and good for them. They have a lot to read these days.
Personally I also enjoy WELL WRITTEN books in this genre.
This book isn't well written, needs an editor to work it over and chop about 1/3 of the content....it just made me bored with the trite writing.
Lots of readers seem to love it though and I think about the same number of readers dislike it.
Guess that makes it average. I wish I hadn't spent a credit on it-I failed to read all the reviews-just hit the positive ones.
It might not make a bad read from the used book store for a couple of bucks, but it wasn't worth a whole credit to me.
Those who love this book will hate my review-but it's honestly my opinion...maybe I can save some other critically minded reader from making the same mistake I did.
I am a longtime listener to Audible and this has been one of the few that I made a mistake with. I read the reviews and listened to the preview. I still downloaded it thinking it might be ok. Well I was wrong. I have listened to 7 hours and can't bare anymore. The story is boring, the characters are even more boring and their history and situations are preposterous and laughable.I kept saying to myself, "Oh please. Give me a break".
I was thinking maybe this should be categorized as a "Romance" novel but there isn't even any romance in it. I also thought that a story of witches instead of another tiring vampire story would be different. But no it's just another roll your eyes and shake your head vampire story. Plus it just rambles on and on and on and on about nothing and goes absolutely nowhere. And the narrator makes it even worse by reading in a constant monotone or in long drawn out mellow dramatic sentences. Just a total waste of time and credit.
I found the description of this book very misleading. The storyline of witches, vampires and demons and the mystery of a magical book is what drew me to this novel. Instead, I found it to be a very overdone story about how much the main character wants to have sex with vampires. I'm not sure what the draw is, but I found the "love story" part of this novel worse and worse as the book went on.
It also seemed like the author lost track of the story, as by the end, it was very confusing as to what everyone was doing, what their motivations were, etc. Basically, this book read to me mostly as a "Twilight for adults". The main character, on one side is the "most powerful witch ever" and on the other side she needs to be completely taken care of and babied the entire time.
To make it worse, the part of the story that I was actually interested in (the mystery about the "magic book") as well as most of the rest of the conflicts is never resolved at the end. Even with some random deus ex machina (an enchanted house and time traveling) the author doesn't even bother tying the story together. I certainly will not be bothering with any sequel if it's written.
An ancient manuscript, modern-day witches, vampires, demons... all the elements of an absorbing read, if not great literature, you'd think. But A Discovery of Witches manages to make it all ho-hum, poor to no character development, no real sense of danger, a toothless vampire who takes our heroine, a witch reluctant to use her powers, for lattes and to yoga classes. And endless tedious details, obscure Latin quotes, and references to the character's smells, left me wondering near the end of the first installment, if anything was ever going to happen. The love story left me cold, the mystery failed to excite me and I had to give it up, especially when I read in another review that the ending is not really a resolution, but instead paves the way for the next book...
The only thing more annoying than having to listen to someone describe the smell and taste of wine is having to read about it.
30 minute wine tastings and listening to someone reading in the library day in and day out gets really boring.
I enjoyed the first 5 hours of this book. It is really interesting and well written, but once the main characters begin dating it really drags down the story. It doesn't even have a proper ending. It really leaves the book wide open for the next installment, but if i had loved the story that may have been alright.
Sorry to those who loved it, but i would rather imagine how delicious food is or how beautiful a sunset can be. Don't try and describe every nuance at length for hours on end.
Wonderful job! Really saved the story at times.
I enjoyed this book. I thought the handling of the witches, vampires, and demons was excellent. It is only similar to Twilight (as others have stated) in that a vampire and a woman (in this case a witch) fall in love and that is forbidden in this society. The vampire Matthew has quite a history and it is interesting to watch that part of the story weave itself into the main story.
Diana is a flawed character, which I much prefer to a perfect main characater, and her flaws just enhance the course of the story. A witch that can't perform any magic doesn't make any sense until the pieces start to fall into place.
I especially love the house where Diana's aunts live. It's alive and full of ghosts, and everyone just accepts it. Really a lot of fun.
I recommend this to any fan of supernatural fiction. It's interesting and just fun. I can't wait for the next book. The ending screams for a sequel.
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